How Barry Goldwater changed Arizona politics


Maureen Roen

Michael Rubinoff, historian and lecturer in ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences, reflected on the late Senator Barry Goldwater’s contributions to Arizona and national politics, in an April 13 Arizona Republic column, part of a special tribute marking the 50th anniversary of Goldwater’s presidential campaign.

Rubinoff, who interviewed Goldwater for the Arizona Republic in 1969, and again before the senator's retirement in 1987, discussed the one-time department store owner’s part in creating a Republican majority in Arizona, the impact of his presidential candidacy and the candor displayed throughout his career.

Drawing on observations Goldwater made during his life, Rubinoff offered speculation on what the late senator’s reactions might be to some recent political developments in Arizona and nationally.

“Would Goldwater approve of party activists censuring his successor, John McCain, or condemn the governor and her GOP allies on the Medicare expansion? We can only speculate,” wrote Rubinoff. “His words offer clues: Bemoaning the growing welfare state, Goldwater said in 1964 that society can't be ‘abandoning the needy or forsaking the helpless.’ He saw the need for party unity and took it on the chin from many conservatives by standing with the incumbent Ford over Reagan in 1976.”